Florida Member of House Science Committee is Severely Factually Challenged

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Florida Congressman Michael Waltz is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. In January, he completed a two-year on the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. So, he should know what he’s talking about on space.

Alas, he is severely factually challenged about the very thing he is supposedly an expert. Here is the assessment he gave to Fox News the other day about NASA and the U.S. space program:

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Vice President Harris Swears in NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson is sworn in as NASA administrator. From left to right, Pam Melroy, current nominee for NASA deputy administrator, former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Bill Nelson Jr., son of Bill Nelson, Nan Ellen Nelson, daughter of Nelson, former Senator Bill Nelson, his wife, Grace Nelson, and Vice President Kamala Harris pose for a photo after Nelson was ceremonially sworn in as the 14th NASA administrator, Monday, May 3, 2021, at the Ceremonial Office in the Old Executive Office Building in Washington. A Moon rock collected by astronaut John Young during the Apollo 16 mission was also on display. (Credits: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Sen. Bill Nelson took office as the 14th administrator of NASA Monday, after he was given the oath of office by Vice President Kamala Harris during a ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington.

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Vice President Harris to Lead National Space Council

Harris will swear in former Sen. Bill Nelson as the next NASA Administrator on Monday morning (details TBA). The Senate unanimously approved his nomination on Thursday.

Nelson issued the following statement on Saturday:

“The Vice President is the perfect person to lead the federal government’s space policy, which is increasingly complex, with many nations in space.

“Vice President Lyndon Johnson was the first chair of the National Space Council when America initially ventured beyond Earth. Now, Vice President Harris will coordinate our nation’s efforts to ensure America continues to lead in space. It is an exciting time for our space program.”

The Trump Administration revived the National Space Council after a 24-year gap. The Biden Administration has announced it will keep the council’s Users’ Advisory Group, which was established by the last administration.

Report: Biden to Retain National Space Council

NASA’s Orion spacecraft that flew Exploration Flight Test-1 on Dec. 5, 2014 is seen on the South Lawn of the White House, Sunday, July 22, 2018 in Washington, DC. Lockheed Martin, NASA’s prime contractor for Orion, began manufacturing the Orion crew module in 2011 and delivered it in July 2012 to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center where final assembly, integration and testing was completed. More than 1,000 companies across the country manufactured or contributed elements to the spacecraft. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Politico reports that the Biden Administration will retain the National Space Council. The council was revived by the Trump Administration in 2017 to coordinate national space activities after a 24-year gap in operation.

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Scott Pace Departs National Space Council

Scott Pace (Credit: GWU)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the Trump Administration winding down, Scott Pace has left his position as executive executive of the National Space Council and returned to his previous post in academia.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in my capacity as Executive Secretary of the National Space Council,” Pace said in a statement. “The leadership of the president in reviving the National Space Council and the active chairmanship of the Vice President have made the past four years among the most ambitious and productive years for the Unite States space enterprise.

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National Space Council Releases Planetary Protection Strategy

Mars weather seen from the InSight lander. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (National Space Council PR) — Today, the National Space Council released the National Strategy for Planetary Protection. This Strategy will advance the Nation’s role in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting other planetary bodies and the Earth from potentially harmful biological contamination from space exploration activities.

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National Strategy for Planetary Protection Fact Sheet

The composition of the Moon’s near side is oddly different from that of its far side, and scientists think they finally understand why. (Credits: NASA/NOAA)

National Space Council Fact Sheet

By Establishing a National Strategy for Planetary Protection, the United States Continues to Lead in the Safe and Sustainable Exploration and Commercialization of Space

PLANETARY PROTECTION FOR THE 21ST CENTURY: The National Space Council released a strategy to ensure the protection of the Earth and other planetary bodies from harmful biological contamination from space exploration activities.

  • As the United States continues to lead in space exploration and commercialization, national policy must keep pace to accelerate our world-class commercial space sector and scientific enterprise, while appropriately avoiding biological contamination.
  • Many aspects of planetary protection policy have not been updated since the Apollo Era and do not reflect the increasing role and capabilities of the private sector.
  • Planetary protection against “forward contamination” ensures the validity of potential scientific discoveries in the search for extraterrestrial life.
  • Planetary protection against “backward contamination” ensures that the Earth’s biosphere is not adversely affected by the return of potentially hazardous microbes.

ADVANCING SPACE EXPLORATION LEADERSHIP: The National Strategy for Planetary Protection advances U.S. interests in science and exploration, commercial space activity, and international leadership.

  • This strategy outlines steps to implement direction from the 2020 National Space Policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead U.S. departments and agencies in the development of planetary protection operational guidelines.
  • Meeting the strategy’s objectives will ensure a cohesive national effort that balances scientific discovery, human exploration, and commercial activity in space, while meeting applicable international and domestic obligations.
  • The United States will continue to lead in the sustainable exploration of space by appropriately protecting the Earth and other celestial bodies.
  • Best practices developed by the United States that account for commercial and international partners will ensure safety, sustainability, and predictability in space for the benefit of all humankind.

Global Leader in SSA/STM Officially Launches as Independent Company

EXTON, Pa. (COMSPOC PR) — COMSPOC Corp. — a global leader in space situational awareness (SSA), space domain awareness (SDA), and space traffic coordination and management (STCM) — commences as an independent company and no longer a subsidiary of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI). 

COMSPOC retains all SSA/STCM intellectual property, contracts, the products and services associated with SSA, SDA, and STM as well as its research arm, the Center for Space Standards and Innovation (CSSI), and the free space data service, CelesTrak. COMSPOC will also continue to provide staffing and resources for several global organizations including the Space Data Association and the Space Safety Coalition.

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Two USAF Facilities in Florida Designated as Space Force Bases

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. (Credit: U.S. Space Force)

By Charles Pope
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation’s commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

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NASA Names Artemis Team of Astronauts Eligible for Early Moon Missions

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Report Recommends Former Spaceport America Executives be Investigated for Possible Criminal Charges

Sunset at the “Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space” terminal hangar facility at Spaceport America. (Credit: Bill Gutman/Spaceport America)
  • Outside investigation concluded former Executive Director Dan Hicks ignored spending regulations, submitted falsified travel documents, and wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on unnecessary travel and unrealistic projects
  • Hicks portrayed by staff as an incompetent manager who bullied employees
  • Ex-CFO Zach DeGregorio facilitated Hicks’ violations by improperly approving travel and ignoring rules and statutes
  • Former New Mexico Spaceport Authority Board Chairman Rick Holdridge accused of allowing violations to continue

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A highly critical investigation of Spaceport America has determined the New Mexico state government should consider formal criminal and/or administrative charges against former Executive Director Dan Hicks and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Zach DeGregorio for their mishandling of the spaceport’s finances.

“As detailed above, there is evidence to conclude that Dan Hicks violated criminal and administrative statutes, as well as the State of New Mexico Governmental Compliance Act, and Governor Lujan Grisham’s Code of Conduct, during his tenure as Director of the Spaceport,” the report said.

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National Space Council to Hold 8th Meeting on Dec. 9

Vice President Mike Pence addresses NASA employees, Thursday, July 6, 2017, at the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

The eighth — and most likely final — meeting of the National Space Council under the Trump Administration will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. at 12:30 p.m. EST.

Vice President Mike Pence will chair the meeting. NASA TV will livestream it.

The Trump Administration revived the National Space Council after a long period of non-existence. It’s not clear whether the Biden Administration will continue it.

Bridenstine to Leave NASA Administrator Post

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a decision that has disappointed his supporters, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine plans to leave his position even if president-elect Joe Biden asked him to stay.

Irene Klotz broke the news in Aviation Week. The story is behind a paywall, but Klotz did tweet:

“You need somebody who has a close relationship with the president of the U.S. … somebody trusted by the administration…. including OMB, National Space Council, National Security Council. I think I would not be the right person for that in a new administration –Bridenstine

Agency administrators usually change when a new president comes in, particularly if he is from a different party. Bridenstine is a former Republican Congressman from Oklahoma appointed by President Donald Trump, who was defeated by his Democratic opponent Biden last week.

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Trump Administration Releases Science and Technology Accomplishments from First Term White House

Credit: Matt Wade

OSTP Showcases S&T Wins That Changed the World Over the Past Four Years

WASHINGTON (OSTP PR) — The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) today released “Advancing America’s Global Leadership in Science and Technology, Trump Administration Highlights: 2017-2020.” The document is a selection of significant investments, accomplishments, policies, and other actions undertaken by President Trump to advance science and technology.

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National Space Council Releases Deep Space Exploration and Development Report

Illustration of Artemis astronauts on the Moon. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (White House PR) — Today, the National Space Council released “A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development,” a report prepared by the National Space Council staff in consultation with National Space Council members and the Users’ Advisory Group that describes the rationale and purpose for the Administration’s new direction in space. 

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